World Religions

Belief, Culture, and Controversy

by David Tipton, Joseph Laycock, Dale McGowan, and J. Gordon Melton, Editors

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ABC-CLIO Solutions

Topics Religion/General
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The diversity of faiths and beliefs in human experience makes the study of religion uniquely enchanting. It is also immeasurably valuable, enabling a deeper understanding of why people behave as they do and how religion has historically defined societies worldwide.

World Religions: Belief, Culture, and Controversy spans more than 50 religions practiced throughout the world, both those that have flourished and those that have disappeared. Important figures, core beliefs, customs and practices, celebrations and holidays, momentous events, significant and sacred places, and more accompany descriptions of the essence of each religion, and daily updates and additions aid researchers in their examination of the continuously metamorphosing role of religion. The advisor for this collection is J. Gordon Melton, PhD, author of more than 40 scholarly texts and reference books on religion, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Institute for Religious Studies at Baylor University in Texas.


  • Includes thousands of primary and secondary sources including 1,700 photos and illustrations, 300 maps, and 175 audio and video recordings
  • Presents scholarly perspectives on core concepts of religion that have significant implications today, such as "What are the differences between Sunni and Shia Islam?" and "What are the origins of Wiccan beliefs and practices?"
  • Features the CLIOview tool that allows students to compare statistics such as number of adherents, growth percentage, and population across countries and tells students the number of followers of various beliefs in the past and present, and makes projections for the future
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A DEEP COLLECTION OF MODEL COMMENTARIES from noted scholars that have been specially commissioned to foster critical thinking stimulated by exposure to varying points of view.

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Advisory Board

David Tipton is the Managing Editor for the World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras, World History: The Modern Era, Daily Life through History, and World Religions databases. He received his BA and MA in History from the University of California, Santa Barbara with an emphasis on ancient and medieval history. He has completed doctoral coursework at University of California, Santa Barbara in the study of ancient Rome and early Christianity.

Joseph P. Laycock is an assistant professor of religious studies at Texas State University. He writes on American religious history, new religious movements, and religion and popular culture.

Dale McGowan is author and editor of 10 books from the nonreligious perspective, including Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, Voices of Unbelief, and Atheism for Dummies. He was 2008 Harvard Humanist of the Year and served as founding Executive Director of Foundation Beyond Belief, the world's largest humanist charitable organization. He is currently on the editorial board of Patheos, the premier online resource exploring religious and nonreligious perspectives.

J. Gordon Melton is Distinguished Professor of American Religious History at the Institute for Studies in Religion at Baylor University in Waco, TX. He is also the director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Woodway, TX. Melton is the author of more than 40 books, and is the editor for ABC-CLIO's Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Belief and Practice; Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations; and Faiths across Time: 5,000 Years of Religious History.

Topic Centers


• Buddhism
• Mahayana
• Theravada
• Vajrayana
• Islam
• Ismaili Islam
• Shia
• Sufism
• Sunni
Traditional Religions
• Traditional Religions
• Africa
• Americas
• Europe
• Egypt and Near East
• Greco–Roman
• Christianity
• Catholicism
• Eastern Orthodox
• Mormonism
• Protestantism
• Judaism
• Hasidism
• Conservative Judaism
• Orthodox Judaism
• Reform Judaism
Western Esotericism
• Western Esotericism
• Astrology
• Gnosticism
• Spiritualism
• Wicca
Chinese Religions
• Chinese Religions
• Confucianism
• Daoism
New Religions
• New Religions
• Scientology
• Unification Church
• Unbelief
• Agnosticism
• Atheism
• Humanism
• Hinduism
• Shaivism
• Shaktism
• Vaishnavism
• Smarta Tradition
• Shinto
• Sect Shinto
• Shrine Shinto
Other Faiths and Beliefs
• Other Faiths and Beliefs
• Baha'i Faith
• Jainism
• Sikhism
• Zoroastrianism




"The World Religions Website is a remarkable tool that will give students a new appreciation for the role religion has in shaping history, politics, and society as a whole. They will be able to see how various religions interconnect as well as where there are distinct differences between them. The use of clearly written essays, topics that promote debate and critical thinking, and an abundance of photographs will appeal to students from the middle grades up. This site should be considered by all types of libraries and libraries are encouraged to take advantage of the publisher's free trial offer to see if this site will be worthwhile in their library."ARBA

"The school edition of ABC-CLIO's World Religions: Belief, Culture, and Controversy does double duty as a research resource and a teaching tool. . . . The database interface is clean, appealing, and intuitive. . . . This product offers authoritative and objective information and should be accessible to researchers in ninth grade and up. The additional teacher-friendly features broaden its appeal and create additional justifications (and possible funding sources). Recommended for high-school and public library collections."Booklist


2012 Best Education Software Award (BESSIE)-World Religions Website — ComputEd Gazette

2012 CODIE Award Winner-Best Education Reference Solution — SIIA

2013 EDDIE Award Winner - Best Multi-Level Social Studies Website — ComputEd Gazette

2017 CODiE Award Winner - Best Social Sciences Instructional Solution — SIIA

2018 Gold Award — Modern Library Awards

2019 Best Social Sciences Website — ComputED Best Educational Software Awards (BESSIES)

2018 Best Online Educational Resource — ComputED Best Educational Software Awards (BESSIES)

2018 Best Social Studies Website — ComputED Best Educational Software Awards (BESSIES)



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